Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we’re celebrating Funny Fiction Winner Bevin Rolfs Spencer!
What contest was your winning entry submitted to?
How many writing contests have you entered?
Tell us the title of your entry and a short summary of the story.
In the Paws Across America reading program young students can’t wait to practice their reading skills with Zu-Zu the dog! Zu-Zu is a fancy French pup that wears ruffled tutus, prances, and knows fancy dog tricks. She is used to being a star. Things go awry when Zu-Zu meets her first reader—a girl who thinks Zu-Zu looks more like pink creampuff than a dog and refuses to read until a ‘real’ dog shows up. Zu-Zu tries every doggie trick she knows to change her mind, to no avail. Dog and student are at an impasse until a plate of meatball surprise appears from the cafeteria that even a fancy pup can’t resist. A hilarious chase of bouncing meatballs ensues and Zu-Zu proves she really is a dog and wins over her reluctant reader too!
What inspired your winning entry?
I discovered a Read to Your Dog program at my local library for students to practice their reading. I found there are many of these programs in schools as well. These dogs are very well trained and behaved but I wondered what would happen if neither the dog nor the reader behaved as expected? My mother also had a tiny Beagle who offered up no end of mishaps and stories with her food obsessions. I thought it would be funny to pair a fancy dressed dog who appears so formal and serious but deep down is just a dog obsessed with something like meatballs.
How has entering this contest helped your writing?
Entering contests is a great way to push yourself to try something new and having a deadline is a great way to stay focused. It’s also good practice for when you work with an editor and you have to have revisions and corrections done on time.
Are you a full-time writer? If not, what is your “day job”?
I am a special education teacher for young children while I also pursue writing. I had my first chapter book published in October 2016, The Backyard Players Present: Abracadabra through Xist publishing.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing seriously now for about thirteen years.
What will you do with your piece now that it’s been recognized?
I am in the process of revising it. I’m using the comments to help me make strong edits and really pay attention to the words I’m using.
Any fun plans for the prize money?
I used it as an investment in my writing with membership in a writing organization.
What do you do when you’re feeling discouraged or blocked? Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
If I feel discouraged I often find I’m trying to do too much. It helps to take a step back and re-read some favorite stories or work on something else and come back to it. Distance helps. I also take a lot of walks to clear my head.
If you could go to the yard sale of any character in the history of children’s literature, whose would you go to, and what would you buy?
I loved the books by Richard Scarry and can remember ‘reading’ the entire Great Big Schoolhouse and other Busy Town stories when I was very young. I’d love to go the yard sale of Bananas Gorilla and buy his Banana Car or Mr. Frumble and check out his skipickledoo—the best pickle snow machine ever!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your ICL experience?
I appreciate the contests and opportunities to learn that ICL offers. I started off with ICL a long time ago and it was the first writing experience for children that I had that offered encouragement—which is priceless on your writing journey.